Before we discuss the main topic this month, I wanted to say it was great meeting many of you at the World of Concrete show in Las Vegas. It was especially nice to have my mom along for the show and to see the new tools that many companies had to offer.

Part of what I do requires me to travel and this means staying in quite a few hotels. One of the problems that I run into quite often is the amount of "mold" issues that many hotels are facing. I've literally had to change rooms often because of the smell from the mold growing behind the wallpaper. And I can assure you these are not isolated cases. It's a very big problem-and hotels are working hard in many parts of the country to solve these problems.

I wanted to highlight one such hotel, one that is close to where I live and that has worked hard to create a new image. Toward the end of 2004, I was able to meet with Frank and Angie Pedula, the owners of this establishment, located in Peoria, Ill. The following is what they have accomplished and more importantly, how plaster has figured prominently and extensively in their renovation efforts.

Radical change

In 1970, Jim Jumer built Jumer's Castle Lodge, a Bavarian-themed hotel that contained-along with all the European furniture-a tremendous amount of wallpaper. It literally filled the hotel from one end to the other and in every room-rich, thick vinyl that was beautiful but also the cause of a lot of problems, including mold.

Starting in 2003, the hotel underwent a $35-million, 125,000-square foot renovation. The Pedula's worked very hard to take the Castle Lodge from a dark, Bavarian-themed establishment, to a high-tech Radisson hotel. To meet Radisson's high standards and to lose much of the dark and cluttered look throughout, much of the furniture was removed. And so was most of the wallpaper. This brought an immediate change in the atmosphere of the hotel, giving it a lighter and brighter look. But more was needed and this is where I really became interested.

Plaster (Man) to the rescue

Removing the wallpaper from all the rooms, hallways, lobby and entryways was a good move. If there were to be a leak in any room or location, the water would not be trapped behind the vinyl and cause further problems. However, what would replace it? Just a painted finish? The Pedulas felt that the plastered areas that existed before the renovation should stay and that more plaster would be added. I have included several pictures that illustrate the new look and also highlights the great effect the plastering has had on this facility.

Fortunately, they were able to keep the stained glass windows. The most radical and welcome change is the knock-down texture that is on the walls. This texturing allowed them to capture the European feel that the building contains and yet modernize it with a light and refreshing feel that was a very welcomed change.

Frank Pedula is pointing out the heavy plaster texture that had existed in some of the rooms before the renovation. They simply expanded it to cover all the areas that once had been wallpapered. To me, this heavier texture was very appealing and gave it that rustic, warm feel-this was especially the case in the rooms that had a fireplace.

There is also of some of this heavy texture that was added to the hallway areas. It's heavier than a skip trowel effect, with a lot of plaster laid on heavily over a background coat. This type of plaster gave the hallways a very rustic look, as well, instead of the "sterile" flat and smooth walls that many hotels contain.

Plaster, art and a library

After one of the workshops I held in Peoria, I brought the group of attendees back to this very dining room. At that time, it was filled with dark wallpaper that actually "hid" the artwork. (As a side point, I've been to several locations in recent months that have used Venetian plasters in combination with artwork-with similar effect. The artwork seems to almost jump off the walls at people. This is a great marketing tool and way to promote the use of plaster in such areas.)

Inside a room that was kept the same-a library room with two walls containing books from floor to ceiling. The only change here was the wallpaper again was removed and a light, knock-down texture was put on the walls.

I have been in this room on several occasions in the past. I can say from personal experience that before the plaster was added, the room felt rather stuffy to me. The new addition of plastered walls on two sides of the room opened it up and took away the cramped feel that was once there.

Money well spent

My overall opinion is that the money they put into this project (especially the investment in plaster) was well spent. I am of the opinion that this use of textured plaster should be kept in mind and used as a great way to promote and market its use on similar projects. Of course, some of the wall areas that contain mold would have to be torn out and re-hung with drywall or plasterboard. However, in many areas the changeover from wallpaper to plaster involved two simple steps: First, remove the wallpaper, and second, bond the walls and basecoat and texture the surfaces. The great part about plaster in these types of situations is that it can be done quickly. I've seen rooms where wallpaper has been pulled off in the morning and the textured plaster has been knocked down and finished by the end of the day.

It may sound radical but that's what can be accomplished-and no sanding mess.

To update you on what's going on in the next few months: I will be attending the International Lime Symposium, in Orlando, Fla., as a featured speaker. I will review this event in an upcoming article. If all goes as planned, I will also be going to Hawaii to do some training in the art of using colored plasters. It seems like "green" homes are the rage there and several plastering materials are perfect for such homes, including the ever popular Marmorino plasters from Italy that seem to be getting a lot of attention lately.

Cruise on!

The first annual "Plaster Man Cruise" is coming up Sept. 22 through 26. The newest plastering products, tools and techniques will be shown on board a Carnival Cruise ship that also will be making a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. If you have been looking for an excuse to go on a cruise and learn everything you ever wanted to know about plastering please look into this. And keep in mind that there's plenty for your spouse to do (and your kids if you want to bring them along), as well. I'll be hosting this cruise and it would be great to have you on board to enjoy the food, plaster talk and fun. For more information, go to and Registrations will be accepted through July.

Next month, we'll look at a kitchen remodeling project that felt like putting Humpty Dumpty's house back together again. Until next time, "Plaster On!"